Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 11


The year 1852 possesses political interest. When the year opened the Whigs, under Lord John Russell, were in office, with Lord Palmerston in the attitude of a hostile critic. Owing to the seizure of supreme power in France by Louis Napoleon, apprehension sprung up in this country, and the Premier introduced a bill for the establishment of a “local” militia. Lord Palmerston moved the substitution of “regular” for local, and carried his amendment by a majority of 11 votes. Lord John resigned, and Lord Derby (formerly Lord Stanley) formed an administration, with Mr Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of Commons. The new Government was favourable to protection if they could get a large enough majority. On a dissolution, however, the constituencies returned a majority of Liberals. Mr Disraeli met the new Parliament, and proposed a scheme of finance which was severely criticised by Mr Gladstone, and rejected by a majority of 305 votes to 286. Thereupon the Ministry resigned, and anew Government, a Coalition, was formed under Lord Abevdeen. The Cabinet included Mr Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lord Palmerston as Home Secretary.

The Duke of Wellington died in September in the 84th year of his age. His removal was commented on as significant in the year in which the ambition of Napoleon had revived the Imperial throne in France. Among our colonies, owing to the discovery of gold, Australia attracted a large volume of emigrants. A bill was passed giving a new constitution to New Zealand.

In the month of January a severe snowstorm isolated Inverness for a week from communication with the South. In course of the year proposals and discussions about emigration from the Highlands continued.

January 1.—The announcement that Lord Palmerston had ceased to be a member of the Government created great surprise. Afterwards it became known that he had been dismissed from the office of Foreign Secretary by Lord John Russell, because he had in a conversation with the French Ambassador expressed approbation of the policy of Prince Louis Napoleon in putting an end to the Republican Government in France. He had done this without consulting his colleagues or the Queen, and though Lord Palmerston himself regarded the conversation as unofficial, his explanation was considered insufficient, more especially as there had been previous occasions of friction. On 19th December 1851 Lord John wrote to Palmerston that no course was left to him but ‘to ask her Majesty to appoint a successor to you at the Foreign Office.”

Ibid.—Mr David Lindsay, accountant, Edinburgh, had made a financial report on the work of the Edinburgh section of the Central Committee for the relief of destitution in the Highlands and Islands. Subscriptions and contributions amounted to £80,086 4s; supplies of grain and meal from America, etc., £13,255, making a total of £93,341. In addition to this sum contributions were made by the British Relief Association, making the total received by the Committee, £151,532 Is 6d. The expenditure amounted to £150,227 10s 5d, leaving a balance in favour of the fund at 1st July 1851 of £1304 11s Id. Much discussion had taken place as to the policy and administration of the Board, and the editor, while defending the work on the whole, acknowledged that “the result of this splendid fund has altogether been so unpopular and so unproductive generally, proportioned to its amount, that we are convinced no such subscription will ever again be raised for the Highlands.”

Ibid.—A soiree was held in connection with the Inverness Mechanics Institution, and suggestions were made for extending its usefulness.

January 8.—John Maclean, known at one time as the Nonagenarian, and afterwards as the Centenarian, died on the previous day “in the little cottage on the west side of the river in which he was born one hundred and five years since.” The exact date of his birth is given as January 6th, 1747, old style. John, we are told, was a tailor by trade, and having often been engaged in youth working in the houses of lairds and farmers (his wages being 6d per day and his victuals) he possessed a large fund of anecdote. “In his youth there was only a weekly post from the south, by means of foot-runners, over the mils; and when the weather happened to be ‘coarse,’ or the runner took ‘a glass too much,’ the letters were often several days behind. Afterwards the post was brought thrice a week by way of Aberdeen. He remembered when the first post-chaise was brought here, which continued for a long time to be the only four-wheeled carriage in the district; and about ten years afterwards (1770) the first cargo of coals was brought to the town, one cargo in the year being sufficient for many years. The people were at first much surprised to find the ‘black stones’ bum better than the country peats. At that time there was no bank in the town; the houses were mostly thatched; there was plenty of fish and game, and no lack of smuggled tea and brandy and cheap wine, so that the merchants and writers were well off, and their apprentices found them out at night wherever they were, and saw them safe home, though there wore no lamps in the streets.” John is described as a shrewd, chatty, old man, with a most retentive memory, which was but little impaired at the time of his death. “Two hours before his death he conversed with those at his bedside, and asked them to sing a few verses of the 118th psalm, in which he joined.” There was a small volume issued for Maclean in 1842 by the editor of an Inverness newspaper of that day, called the “Herald.” It bears the title “Reminiscences of a Clachnacuddin Nonagenarian,” and was re-issued in 1886. Mr William Mackay, solicitor, shows that in one point at least John’s memory was at fault. Bailie John Stuart, an Inverness merchant, brought ooals from Newcastle to

Cromarty and Inverness as early as 1721, and Mr Mackay thinks the probability is that he brought them even earlier. Possibly there was a cessation of the limited import owing to the financial troubles in which Stuart became involved, and the rising of 1745.

January 15.—Fresh discoveries of gold in Australia were exciting great interest. “Some time ago an immense mass of gold embedded in quartz, weighing altogether 3 cwt., was found near Bathurst, in Australia, by a settler, to whom it was pointed out by a native servant. The newspapers recorded how the lucky possessor went into town, driving tandem, with the rock of gold in his dogcart, how he rattled through the streets the observed of all eyes, and, drawing up at the bank door, sold his gold there for over £4000. We recall the circumstance merely to say that this immense mass arrived in London on Christmas day, consigned to Messrs Matheson and Co. The gold when separated from the quartz weighed 106 lbs, and was sold for £4160. The rock was broken up into small pieces, and filled three boxes. The largest piece, weighing 6 lbs. 4 ozs., has been taken from its box, and with several smaller samples has been exhibited, attracting many visitors.”

Ibid.—A correspondent having written suggesting an inscription for the Culloden monument, the editor records that the work had long ago been abandoned for want of funds, almost indeed “before the foundations of the monument had been traced on the ground." It remained for the late Duncan Forbes of Culloden to erect a cairn in 1881.

January 15 and 22.—The Highlands were in the grip of a severe snowstorm, the heaviest, it was believed, since 1826. For six days no letters south of Badenoch reached Inverness, and communication with Aberdeen was exceedingly imperfect. At length a collection of seven days’ mails arrived from Aberdeen. There were seventeen sackfuls of letters and newspapers. “The bags were brought up in a railway parcel-delivery carriage pressed into the service at Aberdeen, and drawn all the way by seven horses.” The editor states on the 15th inst. that he would have been in a bad way for news unless the masters of two Edinburgh steamers had favoured him with papers which they had brought from Leith. Six lives were lost in the snowstorm, and many persons had narrow escapes. Sheep stock suffered severely.

January 22.—The Rev. Charles Downie, minister of the parish of Contin, died on the 11th inst. in the 48th year of his age, and 26th of his ministry. “In him,” it is stated, “the church in the North has lost one of its ablest clergymen.”

January 29.—An article explains how the deed of entail, settling the estate of Auchinleck on heirs-male, was found to be invalid. The deed was drawn up at the instance of Lord Auchinleck. the father of James Boswell, Dr Johnson’s biographer, though it embodied the son’s wishes rather than the father’s. The family, however, of the testator’s great-grandson, Sir .James Boswell, consisted only of daughters, and the laird, finding what he thought a flaw in the deed, brought it before the Court of Session. “The deed was found to be irretrievably vitiated and invalid. By the law of Scotland, confirmed by numerous decisions, when a word of any importance is written on an erasure, without being specified and authenticated in the testing or prohibiting clause, the effect is fatal to the object of the deed, by rendering it in legal language improbative. The Auchinleck deed was in this position. In the clause fettering the right of sale the word redeemable had by mistake been written instead of irredeemable. An erasure was made, and the first five letters ‘irred’ were written on this erasure, and no notice of the circumstance was taken in the testing clause.” Thus a blunder of a copying-clerk annulled the deed.

Ibid.—Lieut.-Colonel Duncan Macpherson of Ardersier, formerly of the 78th Highlanders, died at Cheltenham on the 2nd inst. His first commission was dated 1793, when he joined the 3rd West India Regiment in Babadoes, and afterwards, in the 35th Regiment, served in Holland under the Duke of York. In 1804 he purchased a company in the 78th Highlanders, and fought at Maida, where he was severely wounded, “but remained at the head of his company till the enemy were beat off the field and pursued across the river Lamato, until he fell from loss of blood.” Afterwards he served in Egypt, Holland, and Java, twice suffering shipwreck. He retired as Brevet Lieut.-Colonel in 1826. Colonel Macpherson was the father of the late General Sir Herbert Macpherson, who died when in command of the expedition to Burmah in October 1886.

February 5.—The parochial authorities of Inverness were in a difficulty with a number of poor people who had come from Barra, either persons belonging to the first detachment, noticed on a previous occasion, or more probably others who had followed them. In the previous year (1851) correspondence had taken place, which is now published. The Inverness Inspector wished to’ charge the cost of their sustenance to the Barra Board, but the latter replied that they were not responsible for the able-bodied, and they demanded that any who were on the poor roll should be sent home to the island. The Barra authorities also said that these people had petitioned to be sent to Canada, and claimed that they should be returned to join the vessel. The people, however, would not return. The Secretary of the Board of Supervision found it difficult to give instructions, beyond saying that the Barra Board was entitled to insist on having their paupers removed to their own parish, but that they could not compel them to emigrate against their will—a fate which the people appeared to dread. So the colony remained in Inverness, in great poverty, but avoiding application to the Parochial Board. Their condition called forth great compassion, subscriptions being given on their behalf.

Ibid.—General Sir Lewis Grant, K.C.H., a well-known officer, died suddenly in London in his seventieth year. He had served in the 97th Regiment in the West Indies and elsewhere, and was for a term military governor of the Bahamas. In 1839 he was appointed colonel of the 96th Regiment.

February 12.—The Committee for promoting the cultivation of flax in Glen-Urquhart reported that the experiment had been so far successful and satisfactory. The crop was good and abundant, and a flax mill had been erected. Some of the machinery, however, was of a temporary description, and the Committee suggested that a grant of £2000 or even £1000 from the Government would be desirable to promote flax cultivation in the Highlands.— At this time Scottish farmers were making inquiries about the possibilities in Ireland, and a Beauly man, Mr Sutherland, got a send-off from his neighbours, when he left to take up an arable farm in County Mayo.

February 19.—The Skye Committee, formed to assist voluntary emigration from the island, was taking active steps to promote their object. Upwards of four hundred families, or two thousand souls, had applied for aid to go abroad.

Ibid.—Mrs Johnston, a well-known authoress of the day, had received a pension of £100 for literary merit. Mrs Johnston was the first editor of the “Courier,” and afterwards attained reputation as a writer of tales and editor of “Tait’s Magazine.” She was also the author of a book long famous, “Domestic Cookery by Mrs Margaret Dods of the Clerkum Inn.”

Ibid.—Several deaths are recorded. John Lachlan Macgillivray of Dunmaglass, who had long resided in Inverness, was among them. He had left gifts for charitable purposes, and directed that a full year’s rent should be remitted to his tenants. His heir was unknown at the time. Another who had passed away was Sir Alexander Mackenzie Downie, M.D., brother of the recently deceased minister of Con-tin, and physician in ordinary to the Duke of Cambridge. A third was Donald Gordon, post-runner between Grantown and Forres, who was a good Gaelic scholar, and had translated popular lyrics into that language. Some years before he had prepared for the press the songs and other productions of John Roy Stewart, along with traditionary sketches and biographical notices relating to Strathspey, but the manuscript had been lost by a firm of publishers.

Ibid.—Sir James Matheson of the Lews was entertained to a public dinner in Stornoway, in recognition of his services to the island and its people.

February 26.—Lord Palmerston had defeated Lord John Russell on the Militia Bill, and a Conservative Government came into office, with Lord Derby as Prime Minister and Mr Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

March 4.—As a preliminary to the erection of the new bridge across the Ness, workmen had begun removing the large pile of buildings, known as Castle Tolmie, at the foot of Bridge Street. The appellation, it is stated, was derived from one of its occupants, some fifty years before, being named Tolmie. “The house had a more ancient and dignified history.. It was erected in 1678, the same year in which the late stone bridge was commenced, and was one of the most important buildings in the town, both as respects use and ornament. It was long occupied by the Culloden family as their town residence. The original proprietor was probably a Fraser, for the windows were decorated with elaborate stone carvings representing the Fraser arms—the well-known fraises, or strawberries, the antique crowns, stags, and tree. The date and initials—‘J. S.— H. F.—1678’ were also engraven on the windows.” The substantial stone chimney-piece in the principal room was inscribed—cut in strong, deep letters—as follows: —

Christ is my life and rent,
His promise is my evident.
1678
J. S. H. F.

The inscription, as the editor states, is noticed by Captain Burt in his Letters written about 1730. In course of time Tolmie Castle fell to the condition of a third or fourth-rate inn. A suggestion was offered n 1822 for “the complete removal of the old buildings, called Castle Tolmie, at the lower end of Bridge Street,” but they stood for thirty years longer. “The house has not been levelled with the ground. The thickness of the walls occasioned some labour. When the principal chimney was knocked down, a Gaelic Bible, printed in London in 1690, was found on clearing away the rubbish. It is in good preservation. It had probably been placed in some hole or nook of the chimney, and afterwards accidentally covered up. No other relic was found.”

March 11.—The obituary records the death of Mrs Gooden, an estimable lady, whose name had often been mentioned in connection with deeds of charity. “She died at her residence, Tavistock Square, London, on the 3rd curt., in the 72nd year of her age. Mrs Gooden was the only child of Alexander Chisholm, formerly of Chisholm, or The Chisholm. The entail of the estate was effected by her grandfather, and her father was the first heir under the entail. On his death, as he left no male issue, the estate passed to his youngest and only surviving half-brother. Mrs Gooden leaves a family. To her and to them the operation of the entail was certainly as hard a case as can well be imagined.” .

March 18 and 25.—In both issues are notices of the Life of Lord Jeffrey, written by Lord Cockburn. Preparations were going on for the expected dissolution of Parliament. Mr Hartley Kennedy, a former candidate for the Inverness Burghs, was entertained to a dinner in the Union Hotel. When the time came, however, he did not challenge the seat.

April 1.—The Land and Emigration Commissioners offered a free passage to Australia to four hundred families from Skye, provided a sum of 20s per head was raised for each person that they might not land penniless. As the four hundred families were held to include 2000 souls, a sum of £2000 was required. It is stated that the last crop of potatoes raised in the island was comparatively free from disease, but the cry of distress was as urgent as ever.

Ibid.—Summonses had been issued for the removal of forty sub-tenants in Coigach, in the West of Ross, a step considered necessary because the chief tenants, a firm in Ullapool, had applied to be relieved of their lease. The people were reported to have deforced the sheriff-officer, and the chief officials of the county visited the district, going by boat from Ullapool. At the same time the sheriff-officer went in another boat belonging to Mr Scott, the factor. It turned out that on the first occasion there had been no actual deforcement, as the sheriff-officer had prudently left his warrants at home! The chief tenants agreed to withdraw the letter renouncing the lease, so that the issue of summonses became unnecessary. “The arrangement was instantly communicated in Gaelic and English to the crowd. Some believed and were satisfied; but others doubted and were distrustful; and while the gentlemen were taking some refreshment preparatory to their return, took the summonses (now useless) out of Mr Scott’s boat and burned them; and some scores of women dragged the boat up the face of a hill for about two hundred yards from the water, one man sitting in it, the whole cheering them on, and placed it high and dry in front of the inn.” The whole party had to return in a single boat.

Ibid.—Sir James Matheson of the Lews was formally installed as Provost of Dingwall.

April 8.—Mr Scott, factor for Coigach, gives his version of the affair reported above. He says that the sub-tenants were in arrear to the tacksman to the amount of £8u0, and that the process was intended for a re-arrangement and distribution of the sub-tenants on another farm.

Ibid.—It is announced that Mr Duff of Muir-town had sold to Mr Alexander Matheson, M.P., the lands of his estate lying between the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness. The price was £25,000, or about twenty-seven years’ purchase. “We look upon this purchase—while it is no doubt satisfactory to Mr Matheson as an investment—as of much importance to the town and its future improvement.” So in the result it has proved.

Ibid.—While two men were removing a large stone on the farm of Millcraig, in the parish of Invergordon, they found sixty silver coins in a cavity of the stone, which had been covered over with another thin stone. The coins were chiefly Spanish dollars of the reign of Philip IV., with a few English shillings ranging in date from 1620 to 1638. The stone, it was said, might at some time have formed part of a building.

Ibid.—The issue contains an account of the loss of the Birkenhead troopship, on 26th February, near Simon’s Bay, South Africa, an event famous in British annals from the heroism of the soldiers. “The order and regularity on board during the whole time was extraordinary.” The loss was nine officers and 349 men, besides many of the crew.

April 15.—At the Inverness Circuit Court there was a remarkable trial for murder. William Fraser, a man in the village of Inver, in Easter Ross, had died from arsenic poisoning, and the wife and son were charged with the crime. The evidence was conclusive, and the prisoners were found guilty, but a loophole was left for escape. Lord Ivory, who presided at the trial, adverted in course of his address to the reception of the packet of powder which Dr Maclagan had opened without breaking the seal. “It was described as a sealed packet, but was strictly an open packet with seals upon it. This point the Court had reserved for further consideration.” The reservation led to the liberation of the prisoners, but not on account of the packet. The Clerk of Court had omitted to specify any particular date for taking up the ca6e in the High Court, and the majority of the judges held this omission to be fatal. The prisoners were reapprehended, but the Court finally decided that they could not be re-tried, as they had already “tholed an assize.”

Ibid.—Major-General James Grant, C.B., died on the 5th inst at his residence in London. He entered the cavalry service in 1797, and served in India, in Sicily, and the Peninsular War. He had received medals for Toulouse and Waterloo. “The deceased latterly held the sinecure appointment of Governor of Scarborough Castle, which now lapses into the Good Service Pension Fund.”

April 22.—A book by Mr Angus B. Reach, “Claret and Olives,” is reviewed. The volume gives an account of a ramble from the Garonne to the Rhone—from Bordeaux to Nimes—through the vineyards and olive-groves of the south of France.

April 29.—The practice of moor-burning had led to serious fires, owing to a spell of exceedingly dry weather. On the Farr estate in Strathnairn a considerable extent of wood was burned, the fire being stayed only by strenuous efforts. From a similar cause the woods of Cawdor, Lethen, and Damaway were threatened, but large bands of men arrested the progress of the heather-burning.

May 6.—Alexander Mackay, a young man of great promise, died at sea on 15th April in the thirty-third year of his age. A son of Mr John Mackay, solicitor, Inverness, agent for the National Bank, he had early taken to journalism, for which he showed remarkable aptitude. Having been sent on newspaper duty to the United States, he published on his return a work in three volumes, entitled “The Western World,” which went through several editions. While continuing active literary work, he entered the Middle Temple to study law. In 1850 the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, supported by the manufacturing interest, resolved to send a commissioner to India to report on the possibility of growing cotton, especially in the presidencies of Bombay and Madras. A sum of £3000 was subscribed, and Mr Mackay was entrusted with the mission. In course of his work, however, his health broke down, and he died on his way home, to the grief of all who knew him or who recognised his exceptional ability.

Ibid.—On April 28th Earl Grosvenor, eldest son of the Marquis of Westminster, was married to Lady Constance Leveson-Gower, daughter of the Duke of Sutherland—the former in his twenty-seventh, the latter in her eighteenth year.—Captain Macdonell, Aonach, Glenmoriston, an extensive sheep farmer, died on the 29th ult. It is stated that his family had lived on the farm of Aonach for fully three hundred years.

May 13.—The Rev. Alexander Clark, a prominent Inverness clergyman, minister of the First Charge, died in Glasgow on the 8th inst. Having been for some time in feeble health, he went by steamer to Rothesay for rest and change; but suffering a relapse be was removed to Glasgow, where he died. Mr Clark was born in 1797, and educated at Inverness Academy and King’s College, Aberdeen. He was an eloquent preacher, and took an active part in ecclesiastical and other public movements. The West Church was built through his exertions, and he occupied it till the end. His funeral (recorded in the next issue) was very largely attended, \ showing the respect in which lie was held. A sketch of his life appears in a volume of biographies of Highland clergymen.

Ibid.—The estate of Lakefield in Glen-Urquhart, the property of Mr Ogilvy of Corrimony, was purchased by Mr Cameron, Charleston Cottage, Inverness. The purchase price was said to be £11,500.

Ibid.—The discovery of the Lobos Guano islands had for some time excited interest in the agricultural community. A meeting of farmers in the neighbourhood of Inverness was held to call for “free trade in guano,” the Peruvian Government having imposed a high export duty on the article.—A vessel named the “Louisa” had been built and launched at Rosemarkie.— Notice is taken of a volume, “A Story with a Vengeance,” by A. B. Reach and Shirley Brooks. It is described as “a trifle for the amusement of an hour, specially intended to beguile the tedium of a railway journey.”—Plate-glass windows were beginning to be introduced in the shops in Inverness.

May 20 and 27.—Preparations for the expected general election, and further news on the guano question, are given in these issues. “Jungle life in Ceylon” is a communicated article, and an emigrant to Natal describes the Kaffirs and the dangers of residents. Sir Harry Smith had just been recalled—one of the unfortunate steps in the history of South Africa.

June 3 to 17.—The debate in the High Court of Justiciary on the Ross-shire murder case, formerly recorded, is reported in the first of these issues, and the decision in the last. The final result, when the prisoners escaped because they had “tholed their assize,” appears on July 15.—There had been great delay in proceeding with the new bridge over the Ness, but on 10th June it is announced that the contract had been obtained by Messrs Hutchins and Co., who had constructed the docks at Grimbsy, and were then engaged on the Morayshire railway. On the 17th it is stated that the work had begun. A large emigration was going on from the North to Australia. The issue of the 10th records a death due, it was supposed, to “spontaneous combustion.” A man returning with nis cart from Nairn to Boghole, was observed to jump off his seat, and was shortly afterwards found with almost every particle of clothing burned off, and his head mutilated. He was a dissipated character, and it was supposed that the pipe he was smoking had lighted the fumes of alcohol in his body, and caused his death.

June 24.—The emigration movement, encouraged and regulated by Government, appeared to be increasing on a great scale. During the preceding three months considerably more than a thousand applications had been received at the Emigration Office at Inverness, but it did not follow that all who had received preliminary papers would take their passage. Australia was the great attraction, and large numbers were leaving unaided by the Government. The Department had notified to the officer at Inverness fifteen large first-class vessels in which approved emigrants from the Highlands could secure passage, seven to sail from London and eight from Birkenhead.

Ibid.—The Rev. Dr Macdonald, minister of the second charge in Inverness, was appointed by the Crown to the first charge, vacant by the death of Mr Clark.

July 1.—The estate of Kinloss, in the county of Elgin, was sold for £9000 to Captain Dunbar, Seapark.

July 8 to 29.—The Parliament of 1847 was dissolved, and during the month the country was busy with elections. Mr Alexander Matheson of Ardross was re-elected without opposition for the Inverness Burghs (Mr Kennedy having declined a contest.) The Right Hon. Henry Baillie was also returned unopposed for the county of Inverness, and Mr G. S. Duff for the Ehrin Burghs. The Marquis of Stafford replaced Sir David Dundas for the county of Sutherland. Major Cumming Bruce was returned unopposed for the counties of Elgin and Nairn. There was an active contest in Ross-shire between Sir James Matheson, Liberal, and Mr Ross of Cromarty, Conservative. Sir James was returned by a majority of 70, the figures being 288 to 218. In the Northern Burghs the fight was between two Liberals, Mr James Loch, the former member, and Mr Samuel Laing, who described himself as an Independent Liberal. Contrary to expectation, Mr Laing was elected by a majority of 31, or 233 to 202. There was also a contest in the county of Caithness between the former Liberal member, Mr Traill, and a Conservative, Mr J. G. Sinclair, son of Sir George Sinclair of Ulbster. Mr Traill was returned by 147 votes to 106, majority 41.

Ibid.—The issue of the 15th reports the Wool Market. Ewes showed an advance on the previous year of from Is 6d to 2s 6d, and there was also an advance in lambs. The price of wedders showed little change. The demand for wool was not active. The clip was large, and many fine lots of Cheviot sold from 14s to 15s per stone.—Sir Edward Coffin was in Portree superintending operations on behalf of the Emigration Society. The previous week 250 Skye emigrants left for the Clyde, about 100 being young women. It was expected that in course of the season 2000 would be despatched.

Ibid.—On the 22nd is recorded the death of Captain Simon Fraser, compiler and publisher of “The Airs and Melodies peculiar to the Highlands of Scotland and the Isles.” Captain Fraser was in his 78th year, having been bom at Ardochy, near Fort-Augustus, in 1773. He subsequently removed to Errogie in Stratherrick (an old wadset of the family), and became tenant of Knocky in the same district, where he conducted for many years extensive sheep and agricultural enterprises. As an officer in the Fraser Fencibles he served seven years in Ireland. His collection of Highland airs and melodies was published in 1816. It was pirated in America, and at home its publication cost so much that it never repaid his outlay.—The issue also records the death of Mr Donald Macdonald, A.M., formerly editor and proprietor of the “Inverness Journal,” who was carried away by a pulmonary affection at the age of 39. He had considerable classic attainments, and was greatly interested in local affairs. His remains were interred in the churchyard of Daviot.

Ibid.—There is a strong letter from Mr Buchanan, emigration agent at Quebec, with reference to the emigrants (nearly 1680) sent out to Canada from Colonel Gordon’s estates of South Uist and Barra. They had arrived, he says, “without the means of leaving the ship or of procuring a day’s subsistence for their helpless families on landing.” The Quebec Government had forwarded them to Hamilton at a cost of £674 10s. Of this sum the province realised £522 from an emisrant tax, and claimed the balance of £152 10s from Colonel Gordon. The writer speaks of the entirely different circumstances in which a party of 986 persons were sent out in the spring by Sir James Matheson from the island of Lewis. “Those emigrants were provided with a passage to this port, food, and clothing, and on arrival were provided with a week’s rations and a free passage to their ultimate destination.” They also came at a suitable time of the year to find employment, while the others arrived too late in the season.

August 5.—The last return for the General Election was from Orkney and Shetland, where there was a contest between the Hon. F. Dundas and Mr Inglis, the Lord Advocate. Mr Dundas was elected by a majority of 33, namely, 227 to 194. The result of the elections was variously estimated. According to the London correspondent the Ministerial strength was rated at the utmost at 287, and the reliable Liberals at 329; doubtfuls, 38.

Ibid.—The ship Georgina sailed the previous week from Greenock, for Australia, with 300 emigrants on board, all comfortably provided for. The Rev. Dr Macleod, of St Columba, Glasgow, examined all the arrangements, and distributed a large supply of Gaelic Bibles, Testaments, and psalm-books. On the day of sailing he addressed them in Gaelic, “being the only language they understood.” The scene is described as very affecting.

August 12.—The short line of railway from Elgin to Lossiemouth, six miles in length, was opened on the 10th inst. It was the only line at that time in the North of Scotland.—The shooting season promised to be particularly good, grouse being more plentiful than for the previous five years.

Ibid.—On the previous Saturday, the 7th, a severe thunderstorm was experienced in Inverness, comparable only to one which had occurred in August 1846. “For two long hours the flashes of forked and sheet lightning were followed almost instantaneously by long continued peals of thunder. Rain fell in torrents for nearly half-an-hour, and darkened the heavens so as to make the scene really terrifying. The Castle Commissioners, we think, should now be convinced of the necessity that exists for having the Wynd leading to the County Buildings causewayed, as on Saturday the rain carried from the pathway at least a couple of cartloads of gravel, which it deposited at the head of Bridge Street, in addition to probably as much more conveyed into the cellars of the Commercial Hotel.” The hotel then occupied the corner beside the Town Hall. The storm caused some damage to property, but no lives were lost. On the previous day there was a similar thunderstorm on the north side of the Cromarty Firth.

August 19.—A dirk was picked up on Culloden Moor, within a few hundred yards of the graves of the clansmen. It was stained with rust and worn with exposure. —A paragraph from Campelltown, Ardersier, gives particulars of wages then paid for harvest work. “The old prices of 3d per thrave for wheat and 2id for oats and barley were given. Lads obtained from 32s to 45s, and women from 24s to 40s for the harvest. Men engaged for the harvest were promised from 33s 6d to 45s, with board and lodging. Wages by the week ranged from 6s 6d to 10s.”—An amusing article gives an account of the “riding the marches” of the burgh of Tain.

August 26.—A petition had been forwarded from Inverness to the Rev. Dr Macleod, of Morven, asking him to accept the presentation to the second ministerial charge in Inverness. It bore upwards of 1300 signatures. Dr Macleod, however, replied in the negative, saying that he had no intention of separating from those who attended his ministrations in his native parish.

September 2.—A company was projected in Elgin for establishing steam communication between the north and south sides of the Moray Firth, with headquarters at Lossiemouth.—A public dinner was given at Balmore, near Alness, to Mr Ross of Cromarty, the Conservative candidate for Ross-shire at the recent election.

September 9.—The original Free Church in Bank Street had been purchased by Roualyen Gordon Cumming for a museum. The purchase price was understood to be £300.—Mr Macqueen, rector of Fortrose Academy, died on the 29th ult., in his seventy-second year. He had been rector for thirty-eight years.—Father Gavazzi was making a tour of the North, and spoke in the English Free Church (Free High) in Inverness. He spoke in Italian, with dramatic emphasis, for three-quarters of an hour, and afterwards addressed the meeting in broken but intelligible English.

September 16.—The Northern Meeting, held the previous week, is reported as the most successful for many years. “The southern sportsmen and tourists now constitute the principal portion of the attendance, and this season they came forward in brilliant force. There were also many northern families, and the display of fashion and beauty in the Academy Park fully supported our metropolitan claims and character.”

Ibid.—Lieutenant-General Sir John Ruse of Holme, K.C.B., died on the 9th inst., aged 75. He had served with great distinction in the Indian Army, but had been retired for many years. A subsequent issue (September 30) gives an account of his gallant services, particularly at the siege of Delhi in 1804.

Ibid.—A bazaar was held in the Town Hall to raise funds for a proposed Industrial School in Inverness. The amount realised was £170.

September 23.—The death of the Duke of Wellington is recorded in this issue, with an article on his character and career. He is described as “the least ambitious of conquerors, but the greatest of subjects.”

Ibid.—Arrangements had been completed for the extension of the Kessock embankment, which was in course of formation by the Mackintosh Trustees. The burgh member, Mr Matheson of Ardross, had relieved the Trustees of the undertaking on receiving a contribution from them of £250. The accepted estimate for the extension amounted to £900.—Sir George G. Munro of Poyntzfield died the previous week at Strathpeffer, aged 64, and Mr William Mackilligan, at Relugas, of which he was proprietor, aged 52.—Mr James Loch, formerly M.P. for the Northern Burghs, was entertained to dinner at Dingwall.

September 30.—A presentation to the second charge was laid on the table of the Inverness Presbytery in favour of Rev. A. F. Stewart, minister of Aberfoyle. Mr Stewart, however, wrote asking what was meant by the West Church, as he understood when he accepted the presentation that he was to be colleague to the Rev. Dr Macdonald. The Presbytery declined to enter on this question.

October 7.—The county meeting gave instructions to carry out improvements on the Castle Hill, according to a plan prepared by Mr Joseph Mitchell. “At the top of the Haugh Brae a lodge is to be erected and a gate placed at the spot. This is to form the principal entrance. A broad carriage approach is to be made, and a low boundary wall with iron railing erected, to break off the connection with the houses in Castle Street. New slopes are to be formed, the top of the hill levelled and dressed up, and the sides trimmed and sown with ryegrass.” The paragraph adds that these improvements, though not so extensive as they might be, would be acceptable, as the hill for some years had been in a most unseemly condition.

Ibid.—Four hundred emigrants passed through Glasgow for Birkenhead, to embark for Australia. The greater portion were from Skye, but a group of eight families, numbering 36 souls, were from St Kilda, and were noted as the first emigrants from that island. We are told that neither the cholera nor the potato blight had ever effected a landing on St Kilda. The Skye correspondent describes the breaking up of what was called the Perth settlement in North Uist, on which he was told £2300 had been uselessly spent. The greater number of the people had agreed to emigrate, and only the weaker, who were rejected by the emigration agent, were left behind “to struggle on as they best*can themselves, or be a burden upon others.”

Ibid.—The issue contains the story of a marriage litigation connected with Inverness, and gathered from law papers. The circumstances date from 1730.

October 14.—The Rev. A. F. Stewart, Aberfoyle, accepted the presentation to the second charge of the parish of Inverness. The Presbytery moderated in a call to the Rev. John Fraser, A.M., to the church of Petty. The new Free Church at Croy was nearly completed.

Ibid.—A rare fish recently cast ashore at Cromarty proved to be the “Regalecus Glesne,” of Ascanius, a fish so little known that British naturalists had not then fixed a name for it. Of three well-authenticated instances in which it had been met with in British waters, two had occurred in the Moray Firth. It was a ground fish, belonging to the family of ribband fishes, so named from their flat form. Their abode is at the bottom of the sea, and they rarely rise to the surface. The Cromarty specimen was 11½ feet long and 13 inches deep (Pbroad), its greatest thickness being three inches. The head had a beautiful crest or comb of movable bristles.

Ibid.—On the death of the late proprietor of Dunmaglass, John Lachlan Macgillivray, there was much speculation as to the succession to the estates. It now appeared that an uncle, Colonel John Macgillivray, had advanced monev to his brother and nephew, exceeding the then value of the estates ; that in consequence he had executed deeds of entail, and purchased the estate of Aberchalder, in Stratherrick, from his cousin, Farquhar Macgillivray of Dalcrombie, to whom he destined the succession. “The representative of Dalcrombie is the Hon. John Macgillivray, of the county of Glengarry, Canada West, now with his family residing in Inverness. This gentleman was on Tuesday last served heir male of provision in special, and heir in general to his father, and consequently the heir male of the tutor of Dunmaglass. his great grandfather. This service gives him instant possession of the estate of Aberchalder; establishes his representation to the next male heir of the Dunmaglass to whom his great-grandfather was tutor; and we should think gives him every chance to succeed to all those parts of the estates destined to heirs male, and an undoubted right to the chieftainship of his clan.”

Ibid.—The works at the new Suspension Bridge at Inverness were stopped on account of the failure of the contractors, Messrs Thomas Hutchings & Co. The firm held contracts for extensive undertakings in Holland, by which in conjunction with other firms, about 35,000 acres of land were to be reclaimed from the sea, the capital embarked reaching about £500-000

Ibid.—The Rev. Mr Shepherd, Kingussie, had agreed to accept a call to the second charge in the Free Church at Elgin. He had been 26 years minister in Kingussie.

October 28.—The Rev. Mr Stewart, who had come to Inverness to preach his trial sermons for the second charge, conducted service in the High Church, but announced that he had divested himself of the character of presentee. He had done this after acquiring full information respecting the congregations connected with the Established Church in the parish. The difficulty appears to have arisen from a debt on the West Church.

Ibid.—The bog of Arcan, formed by the rivers Conon and Orrin, had been drained and embanked. The amount of land made available for use was 350 acres.

November 4.—An account is given of the improvements at Ardross effected by Mr Matheson, M.P. Trenching, fencing, and draining had been carried out on an extensive scale, no less than 1200 acres having been reclaimed. The new plantations extended to 2600 acres, their enclosures measuring nearly thirty-six miles. The range of altitude in planting was from 200 to 600 feet above sea level. Sixteen miles of roads and twelve miles of walks had also been constructed.

Ibid.—St Mary's Isle, Loch-Maree, has a consecrated well, which was supposed to be efficacious for the cure of the insane, when followed by other ceremonies. This issue records that an idiot girl was taken to the island, obliged to drink of the well, then ducked in it, and subsequently towed round the island after the boat, and bathed in the loch after midnight. The unfortunate result was that the poor imbecile girl became a raving maniac.

November 11.—The new Free Church (now United Free High) was opened on the previous Sunday. There were three services. The morning service was conducted by the Rev. Dr Duff, the Indian missionary; the afternoon service by the pastor of the church, the Rev. Joseph Thorburn; and the evening service by the Rev.‘John Kennedy, of Dingwall. The collections amounted to £215 19s 4d.

Ibid.—Mr James Sutherland, who had been at a former time Provost of Inverness, was again elected to fill the office.

November 18.—The first session of the new Parliament was opened the previous week by the Queen, in person. Almost simultaneously the re-establishment of the Empire in France was proposed and sanctioned, and only awaited the ratification of a plebiscite, which was subsequently given.

November 25.—The memorable funeral of the Duke of Wellington, “one of the most magnificent and solemn pageants recorded in history,” is described on this date. The funeral took place the previous week.

Ibid.—The sum of £100,000 had been borrowed and expended in the county of Ross during the previous five years, under the Drainage Act. This explained how labour had been well employed, and wages had improved.

December 2.—The editor devotes a column to his friend and fellow-journalist, Mr M'Diarmid, of Dumfries, who had died a fortnight before, during the absence of Mr Carruthers in London. Mr M'Diarmid had conducted the “Dumfries Courier” with great distinction for thirty-five years. He was the friend and afterwards the executor of Mrs Burns, the widow of the poet, and a journalist of energy, skill, and literary taste.

December 9.—Mr Disraeli, now Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of Commons, introduced the Budget of the new Government, which he took five hours and a quarter to expound. Before the end of the year the Budget was rejected, and the Government resigned. It was during the debates that Mr Disraeli made a famous attack on the leading Whigs, and that Mr Gladstone replied in a speech which raised him to a foremost place in the House of Commons.

Ibid.—A correspondent suggests the erection of a memorial over the grave of Flora Macdonald, in the churchyard of Kilmuir, in Skye. A good many years, however, had to pass before the idea was brought to accomplishment. The paragraph mentions that some years before a grandson of Flora had sent from England a. marble slab to mark the spot, but it was broken ere it reached Skye, and there was in 1852 no trace of it.—A pre-historic grave was found on the farm of Broomhill of Ord on the Allangrange estate. The skeleton, which lay in a stone coffin, crumbled to dust on being handled.

Ibid.—At a meeting of the shareholders of the Great North of Scotland Railway Company, the chairman, Sir James Elphinstone, announced that they had commenced the work of construction a few days before. He hoped that they would soon be able to open the portion of the line between Inverurie and Kittybrewster.

December 16.—The London correspondent comments on a new scheme proposed at Nairn for constructing a breakwater. He says that “ever since he could remember anything anent this snug burgh, seaport, and bathing place, the natives therein have been devising all manner of ingenious schemes to effect an amicable amalgamation between their river and their sea.’’ The amalgamation was afterwards accomplished, but difficulties still arise.

Ibid.—A report was made to a medical journal by Dr Grigor, Nairn, on the man who had died on his way to Darnavvay, from some species of combustion. The man was a notorious drinker, and it was popularly supposed that he had been smoking, and had thus lighted the fumes of alcohol in his body. Dr Grigor, however, found no evidence that the man’s pipe was kindled. When he was last seen it was in his hand, but he said it was not going, and he was never known to carry lucifers. Dr Grigor was therefore induced to regard the case as one of “progressive igneous decomposition, commencing during life, without the application or approach of any hot or burning body.” He acknowledges that such a condition has been regarded by many as almost fabulous, but he refers to various authorities on the subject to show that the doctrine could not be wholly set aside.

December 23.—The final debate on the Budget is given. The figures in the division were 305 against the Government resolution, and 286 in favour, giving an adverse majority of 19 On the resign dion of Lord Derby’s Government. Lord Aberdeen was called upon to form an administration.

Ibid.—“Miss Caroline Herschel, eldest daughter of Sir John Herschel, Bart., whose marriage with the Hon. Colonel Gordon, Equerv to Prince Albert, appeared in our last week’s publication, is granddaughter of the late Rev. Dr Alex. Stewart, of Moulin and Dingwall, and great-grand-daughter of Rev. Charles Cslder, of Ferintosh.”

Ibid.—A paragraph from the “Glasgow Herald” relates to the emigration of the Sollas crofters forming the “Perth Settlement.” Credit is given to Sheriff Fraser, Portree, for his exertions, and the paragraph adds—“The Sheriff soon had them [the crofters] enrolled as emigrants for Australia; the Emigration Commissioners objected to young men above eighteen being allowed to go single, nor yet, for some reasons we do not know, would they allow the single young women from Sollas to marry. In such trying circumstances, and with little time to spare, it was hard work for these 80 or 100 young men to find suitable wives in South Uist, but the task was accomplished, to the great mortification of the young damsels, who saw their sweethearts debarred by the force of circumstances from binding the matrimonial tie with their first loves. But we hope, as the young girls are all emigrating under the guardianship of their parents, that they will be suitably and happily mated at the diggings. The whole settlement was conveyed by the Celt steamer from Uist to Campbelltown last week—450 in all. The Celt has left Campbelltown for a second batch from Skye, amounting to 400 more. The Government vessel is fitted to carry 900 in all.”

December 30.—Lord Aberdeen had formed his Government. Lord John Russell was Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons. Lord Palmerston was Homo Secretary; and Mr Gladstone Chancellor of the Exchequer. The issue contains further information about the emigration from the Hebrides. In the last and the present issue there are articles on agriculture, which bear the impress of Mr Kenneth Murray, who was for many years a brilliant contributor.


Return to Book index

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast